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Algeria has closed its French airstrip to assist in the fight against Islamist terrorists in the Sahel, the last phase of the conflict between North Africa and the former colonial country.
Algeria crosses a large border between the Mediterranean and Mali and Niger in sub-Saharan Africa. France confirmed Sunday that flights were banned. “We should have made changes, but Algeria’s idea does not affect French practices in the Sahel region of Africa,” said a military spokesman.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, is also at loggerheads with the Malian military, which has criticized Paris for abandoning this by cutting off its anti-terrorism activities in the Sahel region. Junta has threatened to deport Russian troops to fight the insurgency.
Algeria’s idea of flying came one day after the country remembered its ambassador to Paris amid a war of words fueled by Macron’s claims.
Relations had already deteriorated in Paris’s mind last week to reduce the number of visas issued to Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans, with France criticizing the decision to deny the three states the right to relocate illegal immigrants to be repatriated by French officials.
Algeria’s foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday to stage protests against the visa application.
The controversy escalated after Macron’s actions at a meeting with 18 Algerian youths in the Elysée last Thursday to try to heal the wounds of France from the Algerian independence war that has been going on for generations.
The conference, a Le Leonde newspaper correspondent, criticized what he called Algeria’s “rewriting history” based not on facts but on negotiations based on “anti-France”.
After being told that the Algerian youth did not hate France, Macron said: “I am not talking about the Algerian people but a political system based on this memory… I have a good conversation with the President. [Abdelmadjid] Tebboune, but I can see that he has been caught in a very difficult situation. ”
Tebboune responded angrily, denouncing Macron’s remarks as an “unlawful interference” in his country’s affairs and the “torture” of the millions of Algerians who died fighting in France from 1850 until their independence in 1962.
Tebboune said: “The crimes of the French colonialists in Algeria are innumerable and are linked to genocide.” There were others in France, he said, who wanted to hide colonial practices such as “killing people” and destroying villages.
Macron seems to have gone further than those who led him to the Elysée Palace to force France to reconcile history, calling the colonists a “criminal offense” and acknowledging France’s actions in persecuting Algerian freedom fighters – though he has stopped apologizing altogether in Algeria.
In Algeria, however, the idea of visas and its claims in history has been interpreted by some as an attempt to attract voters to the presidential election when its main rivals are the ones who are right against foreigners.
France and Algeria have strong political and economic ties but their relationship is strained by the serious problems that come with it because of their history which has been on the line.